Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Answers

TRUE 1. I've kissed an alligator.

It was a baby alligator, and a handler was holding it. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but probably not the dumbest either. As to what it was like -- Have you ever kissed a leather purse?

TRUE 2. I don't cook very well, but I can order take out with the best.

This was a giveaway!

TRUE 3. I appeared in a Las Vegas show.

My hubby and I and another couple were in the opening scene in a Cirque Du Soleil performance. I didn't catch on at first that we'd been invited to join the clown on stage, but once I realized the spot light was trained on us and we were heading through the stage doors, I finally picked up on what was happening.

TRUE 4. I played the violin in my high school's orchestra. (Go, Stings!)

My freshman year, I was third chair in first violin. I sat behind Mike Montgomery, who was a year older, and not only one of the smartest people I've ever met, but also a wicked fiddler.

TRUE 5. I have one newspaper photo publishing credit.

I took the cover shot for a local paper running a piece on a charity fundraiser that I was volunteering for.

TRUE 6. I collect tea cups from Occupied Japan.

It all started with a pair of cups my Great Uncle brought back from WWII to his mother. I somehow inherited them. They looked lonely, so I began collecting play mates for them, and now, I have a little collection, but am always looking for more of them.

FALSE 7. I was once stuck in an elevator with Anthony Bourdain.

I met him at a book signing, and to answer Gretchen's question -- he was very nice. I had my then five-year-old daughter with me, and he talked to her and autographed his very bloody mystery novel for her. (We'd skipped the talk because I didn't want her repeating any of his adult language.) But no, I was never stuck in an elevator with him.

TRUE 8. I've ridden a bike for a total of 150 miles over two days.

Yup. MS 150.

TRUE 9. I worked in a tackle repair shop in high school.

This is just one in a string of odd jobs I've had.

TRUE 10. The first plane I ever rode in was the one I took to Germany as a kid.

My ears popped so loudly when we landed that I thought my ear drums had broken. By contrast, my oldest daughter took her first plane ride when she was only three months old.

So, who got it right? Kristen! Yay! Whoo-Hooo!

Thanks for playing. Now, you need to do the same and invite me and others to guess. HINT: Facebook works well for that sort of thing . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010


Here are two hints for last Friday's "challenge": Numbers 1 and 10 are true.

Come back Wednesday for the answer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ten Things About Me -- Nine Are True

So, here's the ultimate random Petula challenge. (Well, at least for this week.) Below are ten things about me. Only nine of them are true. Can you guess which one is not true? (If you're related to me by blood or marriage, you're not allowed to guess -- at least not here.) Put your guess in the comments section below.

1. I've kissed an alligator.

2. I don't cook very well, but I can order take out with the best.

3. I appeared in a Las Vegas show.

4. I played the violin in my high school's orchestra. (Go, Stings!)

5. I have one newspaper photo publishing credit.

6. I collect tea cups from Occupied Japan.

7. I was once stuck in an elevator with Anthony Bourdain.

8. I've ridden a bike for a total of 150 miles over two days.

9. I worked in a tackle repair shop in high school.

10. The first plane I ever rode in was the one I took to Germany as a kid.

You have until next Wednesday, March 31st. The one who guesses correctly, gets . . . uhm . . . a shout out on this blog!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bosu, Bosu, Why Art Thou Bosu?

So, I decide that it's time to get rid of my couch potato status, starting out with some core exercises. My doctor suggested that I get a Bosu. Stupidly, I listened.
In my excitement, I also purchase a workout DVD that combines yoga, Pilates, and the Bosu. Yeah. There's a good idea. Let's take someone with a weak core and balance issues, plant her on a thing that looks like half an exercise ball with a lid slapped on it and get her to do balancing exercises.

Not pretty. I look like someone in a log rolling contest. But the nice lady leading me through the torture, I mean, exercises, assures me that I'll get stronger and more stable. She makes no promises about not looking stupid in the meantime. So, if you drive by my house and think you see someone waving her arms like a windmill, that's probably just me on the Bosu.

Today's random time waster is to see how many words it takes to get from "Bosu" to "pain" by changing one letter at a time. (For example, to get from "cup" to "sat," it takes three words -- "cap," "sap," "sat.") It took me ten.

Have fun!

Bosu, by the way, stands for "Both Sides Up."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

I'm a dog person and can hardly remember a time that my family didn't have a dog as a pet. Each one notable for its own idiosyncrasies, and the current alleged "lowerer" of blood pressure certainly has more than his share of quirks.

For example, he loves stuffed dog toys that look like squirrels, or foxes, or hedgehogs. When he gets a new one, the first thing he does is tear off all its limbs, ears, and tail (as applicable). (Oops, there's the law degree rearing its head.) Then, he sucks on the poor mangled critter like a pacifier. Within a few weeks, this leaves the critter a perpetually soggy mess with an unpleasant odor, which is why he frequently gets a new one.

In honor of our German Shepherd Dog, today's randoms involve the origin of dog breed names.

The second half of the Cocker Spaniel’s name comes from its country of origin, Spain; the first half of its name comes from its ability to flush out woodcocks.

The Doberman is named after a German tax collector, Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who was so unpopular that he needed a little extra protection. He bred Manchester Terriers with Pinschers and Rottweilers with Greyhounds until he ultimately produced the Doberman.

The Dandie Didmont Terrier is the only dog breed named after a fictional person, Dandie Didmont, who was a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Guy Mannering.

And, finally, the expression "gone to the dogs" means something is not as good as it was. It is thought to have its origins in ancient China where dogs were not permitted within the walls of cities. So, stray dogs lived in the areas outside of the city walls and survived off of the trash thrown out of the city. Criminals and social outcasts were often expelled from the cities and sent to live among the trash – and thus, the dogs. These people were said to have “gone to the dogs”, both literally because that's where they lived, and figuratively because their lives had taken a definite turn for the worse.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Yesterday morning, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. I felt out of sorts -- like one might feel on the day after a friend moves out of town.

But after putting the manuscript aside for a few days (not such a good idea to set a friend aside, but I digress), I'll be back at the keyboard tidying up a couple of loose plot points and digging into the comments on the first draft from my critique group to create a second draft. Ah, revision-land.

I've also starting taking a revision class from the wonderful Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. Just in the comments I received from my synopsis, I've already been able to improve my manuscript. Hopefully, the class will help me get to a third draft. Maybe, just maybe, the third draft will be ready to go visit an agent or two.

In honor of the revision process, today's random timewaster is to see how many words you can make out of the letters from 'revision.' For example, son, sin, and nose are three words.

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Opposites Attract

English is a messy, inefficient language. I mean, think about the follow:

Why isn't "untoward" the opposite of "toward?"

Why don't we say "unprofessional" instead of "amateur?"

And, if we "regurgitate" when food comes back up, why don't we "gurgitate" when we eat?

If I were to say these things out loud in front of my family, this would be the point where my husband would say "You have too much time on your hands." Then, I'd say "I have too much time on my brain."

Speaking of the hubby . . . (see, there's a segue) . . . yesterday morning, I received an e-mail from him that said "So THAT'S what an earthquake feels like."

He goes back to bed while I'm pelting him with e-mails trying to get more details. I assume in the end that if he were able to e-mail me from his Blackberry, he must be okay. He finally e-mails me back about two hours later noting that he was surprised the earthquake was as strong as a 4.4. He reports that it's not fun to be awakened at 4:00 a.m. by something lifting your bed off the floor. I'll be glad to take his word for it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Uhm, I need a new floor

So, while I'm working on the taxes, my husband and daughters decide to find out if they can pull out a few kitchen tiles, starting on a project so that sometime in the slightly distant future, we could have a new floor put in. Thirty minutes later, half of my kitchen tiles are gone.

Uhm, you might say they were way more successful in pulling up tiles than they thought. It actually took them longer to go to the store to get safety goggles than it did to pull up the tiles.

Not really making me feel good about how securely my tiles were put in place.

This means I need a new kitchen floor WAY sooner than I expected. Bear with me if I have floor tile on the brain.

Today's randoms are about what else -- ceramic tile:

1. There are approximately 34,000 glass coated ceramic tiles on the Space Shuttle.

2. The word "Ceramic" comes from the Greek word "Keramos," which means "Pottery," "Potters' Clay," or "A Potter." This Greek word is related to an old Sanskrit root meaning "to burn" but was mostly used to mean "Burnt Stuff."

3. People began putting ceramic tiles into kitchens and bathrooms in the 20th Century as a sanitary measure.

More than you probably wanted to know . . .

So, no segue to this, but . . . Happy Birthday, Crystal.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Forward. Fall Back.

Randomly speaking about Daylight Savings Time:

1. 47 U.S. States observe Daylight Savings time.
2. Daylight Savings Time was originally called "War Time" and was instituted year around by President Franklin Roosevelt.
3. Benjamin Franklin originally came up with the idea.

You can take a Daylight Savings Time quiz at this link:

Ever notice how the first day of Spring Daylight Savings Time isn't so bad? It's the second day that really gets to you -- just like trying out a new exercise. Oh well, at least the time change is hitting us during Spring Break this year!

Try not to hit the snooze button too many times on Monday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills

Today's bit of randomness:

1. An ounce of gold can be stretched into a filament 35 miles long.

2. The specific gravity of gold is 19.3, which means that a quart of gold weighs 19.3 times as much as a quart of water.

3. The Periodic Table symbol for gold is Au, which comes from the Latin word "aurum," which not surprisingly means "gold."

"Gold" is the subject of today's bit of randomness because I'm suffering from the Post-Winter Olympic blues. Sure, I'm getting more sleep. Sure, I've spent a lot less time in front of the TV since the games ended. But come on -- how often is curling televised in Texas? When else am I going to get to watch cross-country ski racing? I live in a place where we all freak out over "hard freezes," and we really only have two seasons - hot and hotter.

But I digress.

We were talking about gold. So, here's a word challenge for you -- changing only one letter at a time, how many words does it take you to get from "gold" to "bent?" (For example, to get from "cup" to "sat," it takes three words -- "cap," "sap," "sat.") I can get from "gold" to "bent" in four words. How about you?

While you're working on that, I'll be searching for curling on YouTube . . .

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stepping Out

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. I'm posting my first blog entry.
It's kind of like throwing a party. Will anyone come? Will they have a good time if they do come? I don't have a thing to wear.

So, why am I blogging? To have a place to share those really random things that pop into my head so that more people will be thinking about really random things.

Also, I'm blogging because I'm in the process of writing a children's books and wanted to share my journey. I have two children, work full-ish time, and write. It's a full, but wonderful plate, and I sometimes wonder how I can make it work. So, in case you're wondering, here's what the daily routine looks like:

5:00 a.m. Alarm goes off.
5:00:30 Hit alarm button and wonder what jerk set the alarm for 5:00 a.m.
5:01 Remember that jerk was me. Give self permission to sleep for five more minutes.
5:15 Remember that no one can read my book unless I write it. Roll out of bed.Brush teeth. Make large pitcher of iced tea.
5:30 Hit the keyboard.
6:30 Fantasy world torn rudely away by reality. Time to get children out of bed and get ready for the day, get breakfast, make sure socks match.
7:35 Hit the car for school drop off.
8:00 MWF -- exercise. TTh -- get into traffic to commute to office.
9:00 Log onto work computer to save the world one benefits compliance question at a time.
3:00 p.m. Log off work computer. Hit carpool line and begin afterschool routine.
6:00 Try to remember what the dinner plan was.
7:00 Dinner
7:45 Kids prepare for bed.
8:15 Start reading books with youngest; yell at oldest about watching too much TV.
9:15 Start dozing off while watching TV with hubby.

That's it. That's the plan to get my idea to paper and from paper to some wonderful agent's inbox.

Write on, everyone.